Professor Daniela Berghahn

Personal profile

Daniela Berghahn studied at the University of Cologne in Germany and at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Before joining the Media Arts Department at Royal Holloway in 2006, she worked as a strategic planner at AMV.BBDO,  one of London’s top ten advertising agencies, and taught at the University of Cambridge and Oxford Brookes University. Her research and teaching interests include transnational cinema; migrant and diasporic cinema in Europe; German film history and culture; the relationship between film, history and memory discourse; cinema and national identity; and representations of the family in cinema. She is currently working on a new research project examining exoticism in contemporary transnational cinemas. 


Daniela Berghahn's research in the field of migrant and diasporic cinema has been supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. In 2010, she was awarded an AHRC Research Fellowship for a project entitled ‘The Diasporic Family in Cinema’. The project examines the representation of families with a migratory background and focuses on the most established diasporic film cultures in Europe (Maghrebi French, Black British, Asian British and Turkish German cinema) from the mid-1980s to the present. Internationally significant Hollywood and Bollywood films in which the diasporic family takes centre stage provide further comparative contexts and reference points. Her monograph Far-flung Families in Film: The Diasporic Family in Contemporary European Cinema was published by Edinburgh University Press. For further details about the project, associated events, podcasts, an extensive filmography and an interactive discussion forum, please visit the project website:


The research project on far-flung families in film builds on an international Research Network on Migrant and Diasporic Cinema in Contemporary Europe (, which Daniela Berghahn led between 2006 and 2008. It was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of the Diasporas, Migration & Identities Strategic Programme. The Network brought together researchers, filmmakers, policy makers and representatives from the cultural sector. It explored how the films of migrant and diasporic filmmakers have redefined our understanding of European identity as constructed and narrated in European cinema. During the past two decades the cultural spaces occupied by migrants have shifted from the ‘subnational’ to the ‘transnational’ as representations of migrant identities and experiences have been articulated in a variety of media. The growing presence of migrant and diasporic cultures within Europe and on European screens calls for a re-evaluation of the established notion of national cinema in a global context. In connection with her expertise on migrant and diasporic film, Daniela Berghahn has been invited to join the international network Remapping Europe: A Remix Project, funded by the European Cultural Foundation in Amsterdam. This research initiative is a collaboration between academics and media artists with a migrant backgound and examines the changing representation of migrants in the media. 


Professor Berghahn's interest in the relationship between film, history and memory is reflected in her contribution to Screening the War in Germany, another international research project (2007-2009). In the context of this project, led by Professor Paul Cooke (University of Leeds) and Professor Marc Silberman (University of Wisconsin, Madison) and funded by the British Academy and the World Wide University Network, she investigated the representation of female suffering and victimhood in DEFA’s anti-fascist films. In 2013, she joined the international research network Screening European Heritage, led by Professor Paul Cooke (University of Leeds) and Professor Rob Stone (University of Birmingham). The Network is funded by the AHRC under the Care for the Future programme. Her contribution explored films that imagine the cultural memory of migration in terms of heritage aesthetics.


Daniela Berghahn has been amongst the first scholars in the Anglophone world to research DEFA (Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft), the state-owned and controlled film production and distribution company of the former German Democratic Republic. Her monograph Hollywood behind the Wall: The Cinema of East Germany (Manchester University Press, 2005) is the first representative history of East German film culture from 1946 to the present.


Daniela Berghahn is a Member of the AHRC Peer Review College. She is Director of Research in the Department of Media Arts and Director of the Humanities and Arts Research Institute (HARI formerly HARC) at Royal Holloway. 




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